Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated June 2012

Letters to the Editor

From Chris & Penny Morton

Not much new to report on TAS 2013, "The Rainbow Connection", except that we now have 5 speakers/presenters confirmed, and are thrilled that Heather (Shute's daughter) is probably coming!

Recommended pre-conference reading (for the Australian contingent and any others who are able to find a copy) is "King of the Wilderness" by Christobel Mattingley; a fascinating biography of Deny King, whose family established a tin-mining settlement in the remote southwest corner of Tasmania early in the twentieth century. Nevil Shute visited the King family, sailing up the west coast, a couple of times in the 1950s. It is obvious the Kings were his model for the Hoskins family. Two of our presenters are Deny's daughters, Mary and Janet!

One of our planned excursions includes stepping aboard "Saona", the yacht that took Shute to see the King family. The other is a boat trip down the waterway she would have sailed en route to the remote southwest coast.

We are currently working on the programme for the week (Sunday 13th to Saturday 19th of October), in preparation for establishing a conference website, to answer a few questions. We plan to set up a brief survey form for the newsletter, to give some indication of numbers interested in attending.

More next month.

From Jim MacDougald

I just re-re-re-read "What Happened to the Corbetts" ("Ordeal"). It was published in 1938 and was a prediction of what was to come a few years later. In it the Corbetts learn that early in the war two capital ships had been lost, HMS Warspite and HMS Hood. Three years later, very early in WWII, the HMS Hood was sunk by the Bismark with the loss of 1400 lives. Only 3 survived. The HMS Warspite, meanwhile, was fighting up north near the Norwegian fjords. She launched a plane that sank a submarine...the first German sub to be sunk by a plane in WWII. Imagine how NSN must have felt when he learned that the Hood had been sunk as he predicted, and how carefully he must have monitored the whereabouts and safety of the HMS Warspite after that. And imagine his interest in the successful anti-submarine efforts by an airplane launched off the Warspite, an activity with which he was to become deeply involved with the "wheezers and dodgers" as the war went on.

From John Page

When I opened my email this morning there was your newsletter containing the bit about the Spits, and an email from my son forwarding further info about that story.

An update on the Spitfires in Burma story can be found here:

This is a legit website - does not download malware.

The story unfolds as the intersection of historic aviation interests, international and national politics, and greed. IMHO the British taxpayer paid for these planes and they ought to be repatriated to the UK for the Imperial War Museum aviation branch at RAF Duxford. If any of them are then sold off, the "profits" can go to support the museum's aviation mission.

From Simon Allen

John Anderson writes of twenty Spitfires that are to be repatriated to Britain. Small correction. They will be repatriated if they find them where they think they are and depending on what state they are in! If they were buried, it was likely to be fairly shallow and 60 years in moist ground would have left only metal. It will be interesting to see what they find.

From Cedric

As a teen-ager I started reading Nevil Shute's novels. Interspersed were quite a few P. G. Wodehouse books, which I thought were hilarious. At the time, and until now, I did not know that he was not respected in England because of the collaborational works he did for Germany after his capture.

P. G. Wodehouse, A Life in Letters, by Sophie Ratcliffe, editor

From Sally Rossetti

As the debris from last year's tsunami begins to show up on the west coast makes me think often of On The Beach with some emotion.

South Harwich on the east coast.

From Jim Woodward

Just finished listening to "No Highway" and the tension in the book between the feckless bureaucratic officials concerned with revenue over safety has the same overtones of the arguments of the NASA engineers concern with ice on the space shuttle Challenger "O" Rings in January of 1986. Apparently, the bureaucrats "win" the battles when it comes to deadlines, revenue and lack of consideration for the safety of persons riding a rocket.

Just wondering if anyone has an idea as to the structural design of the "forked tail" on the Reindeer, i.e., vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizers and it sounded as if it had several vertical stabilizers even though it was a fictitious aircraft. Did Nevil leave any sketches about the Reindeer.

Looking forward for the "Trustee from the Toolroom" as Shute's interests and mine seem to find themselves in joined company. I build models and have for many years. Back in the day they were very inexpensive and today they have accelerated along with the price of gold and silver.

From John Anderson


In October 1959, just a few months before his death, Shute wrote a Memorandum on Creative Writers, Artists and Composers. The last third of the Memorandum deals with the lot of music composers, how they got a raw deal under the prevailing Copyright Legislation and their problems in getting scores transcribed etc. Shute sent the Memorandum off to Prime Minister Menzies with the firm expectation that he would never find time to read it. Shute did not live long enough to find out if any of his recommendations bore fruit.

A few weeks ago I got an email from Dr Joanna Drimatis who is an Australian conductor and music researcher. She has been researching the life and work of the Australian composer Robert Hughes (1912-2007). Amongst Hughes papers was a file of correspondence between him and Nevil Shute. These letters discuss the possible change to Australian copyright law for writers and composers, and give a wonderful insight into the friendship that formed between the two gentlemen and how they were able to change the government's stance to help the cause of the Australian composer and writer.

I alerted Dr Drimatis to the existence of the Memorandum and asked her if she can provide details of what changes it may have subsequently brought about. I am also hoping that the Foundation might be able to obtain copies of these letters.

We know that Shute influenced subsequent writers from Richard Bach and John Marsden to Joelle Anthony. It would be very nice to think he may also have helped others in another creative sphere, that of music composers.

From Cedric

I am just finishing the novel "The Face of a Hero", by Louis Falstein. 1950

It is a very realistic retelling of an airman's experiences as a survivor of a B24 bomber crew during WWII.

His unit was stationed in Italy in 1944 and was utilized in the bombing of Ploesti, Vienna, and other targets.

Each flyer was expected to do 50 missions before returning to the States. The sad fact was that very few survived. It wasn't that they all died by having their planes blown out of the air. Of course, there were many such catastrophes, but many of them were also picked off, one by one, by shrapnel wounds, or by accidents. A crew of 10 could be reduced to perhaps a couple men by the time the last of them got in their 50 missions. German flyers were not the main problem; the unavoidable flak was the big killer. [At least, I should say, from the point of view of those who didn't get shot down, and made it back to base, often in a crippled, barely flyable condition.]

He discusses the psychological tortures that the flying crews experienced and how they dealt with them, including drunkeness and suicides. He also brings out the hatred they had for non-flyers, war planners, politicians, and officers, including the doctors whose job was to keep crews available for flights, not put them in sick-bay. Not the least was hatred for civilians back home, including family members, even sometimes, the spouse. Finally, they devoped considerable contempt for the local Italians, and even some scorn for the Red Cross. They did have some sympathy for the Displaced Persons that they came across during R and R. It is probably this attittude that made the book less than a great success at the time of publication, but I now recognize it as the most truthful it could be. (I heard stories independently from veterans of Italy that confirmed some of the details he writes about.) The author, as is the narrator, was in his middle 30's. Perhaps that allowed him to retain his sanity and to tell it how it was.

Amazingly enough, the pilots seemed to be able to handle their jobs with the least anxiety. Special training, perhaps. On the other hand, the navigator seemed to have a very hard time. He was not in a position to use a weapon, just had to sit there being shot at. Bombardiers were in a similar position, but they at least got to push the "button". The crew clung to faith in their pilot, "the best G--D----d pilot in the business". Sure to get them back again. The ground-crew chief was given grudging respect. The author also gives high credit to the daring Red Tail fighter escorts that participated in many of the raids. He had zero admiration for the B24 itself. He says the clumsy bomber was best suited for staying on the ground.

I seem to remember reading this book as a student, but I'm sure I didn't appreciate it enough at the time.

From Alison Jenner

Wales Chapter - The next meeting of the South Wales/West of England Chapter will take place on Saturday, 28th July, at 14:00.

The book selected is "On The Beach" so, as with ITW last time, there will be plenty of discussion themes.

We intend to meet at the Village Hotel, off Fabian Way, Swansea SA1 8QY. The Starbucks cafe there has wifi access, should we need it.

*If anyone in the region would like to take part, but can't get to Swansea, we Swansea Jacks are prepared to travel.


The "Inbetweeny" in Maidenhead was a great success, we all had a great time, thank you Phil and Jill for organizing it. On Saturday morning we were driving from Maidenhead to London, to the house where Nevil Shute was born. On the other site of the motorway we saw a couple of policeman, on motorcycles, flashing their blue lights, after them came a very old Rolls Royce, with the Queen of England on board. A very nice surprise.

The house, by the way is very accurately described in the first sentences of Trustee from the Toolroom.

Last weekend we have had wonderful weather in the Netherlands. Sun all day and temperatures up to 30°C (86 F). Today it was only 20°C (68°F), and it rained all day. The predictions for the weekend are only 15°C (59° F), but dry. I do hope it will be dry, for I'm going camping with my son.

See you all next month